History of De La Rocque family

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History of De La Rocque family
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By the Rev J A Messervy from Bulletin XXII of La Société Jersiaise, translated from the original French by Mike Bisson

De La Rocque family page

This family is one of a number of those which, by their importance in the past, merited a place in the Armorial of Jersey and, however, is scarcely mentioned. The authors of this work no doubt had the intention to fill in similar gaps in a supplement, so far not published: a notice is in effect dedicated to De La Rocque in a manuscript of the late F G Collas, which Jurat Nicolle wished to send to us.

In the absence of a formal genealogy we read there a somewhat curious memoir entitled:”Descent of the De La Rocque now living in the Island of Jersey”. According to this document, which seems to have been published about 1670, the family commenced with Jean de la Rocque, Governor-Admiral of Teignmouth in 1229, who would be the ancestor of several Governors of Jersey, a Bailiff of Guernsey, and Helier de la Rocque, Bailiff of Jersey in 1524. They would form alliances with the Harlestons, the Pauletts, even with the Royal Family.

Errors in genealogy

We have not been able to check all the data, but several errors which we have observed in this genealogy – particularly for the 16th century – lead us to accept it with reservations. It is not less probable [however] that the family with which we are occupied is of good and ancient insular nobility. From 1274 one finds Robert de la Rocque among a number of prisoners from the island (Lettres Closes). In 1331 Raoul de la Rocque was one of the jurors of the parish of St Saviour.

In 1440 Guille de la Rocque was a Jurat; and it is said that he became Lieut-Bailiff. In the 16th century the members of this family who were most in evidence lived in the household of Rocquier, or Rocher, in Trinity, and possessed other properties in the town, several fiefs, among others those of Saval, in Trinity, which they kept until the end of the 17th century, and which then passed into the hands of Dumaresq.

Died of battle wound

Helier de la Rocque, Seigneur of Saval, was designated to exercise the functions of Bailiff in 1524 during differences between Helier de Carteret and Hugh Vaughan, Governor. Named Lieut-Bailiff some years after, he fulfilled this role when the French invaded at Bouley Bay in 1549; he conducted himself valliantly and received a wound from which he died several days after. (Chroniquesm Syvret Edition, p86, 4 Nov 1549).

On 26 September 1550 Philippe de la Rocque, one of the younger sons of Helier, complained that he possessed only 16 vergees of land, or thereabouts, “which was not half of what he was due”.

Legal actions

In the 17th Century there was a long argument between the De La Rocques and the Dumaresqs of Augres, concerning precedence of a pew at Trinity Church. The Dumaresqs eventually won the case.

The arms of this family are described in the Armorial on page 323. In relation to this it is worth noting the action in 1567 and 1568 between Pierre de la Rocque and Henry Dumaresq, Seigneur of Samares, accusing him of displaying “in his house and other places the arms belonging to the said Seigneur of Samares”.

The principal branch of de la Rocque has been extinct in Jersey since 1695 , and represented by the descendants of the Hamptonne family. The branches of less importance were maintained in St Helier until abvout 1660 and St Lawrence and St Peter until the end of the last century.

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